The Art of the Introduction

A long, long time ago before I started CaseySoftware, I didn't understand the point of an introduction. I considered it irrelevant and not all that important to day to day business, goals, or even your personal/professional standing…

Then I read a pair of books that changed things: Art of the Start and Love is the Killer App. It may sound silly, but between these two books, I figured out the point of an introduction has nothing to do with what you can get. It has everything to do with what you can give… If you introduce two people with complementary goals, interests, or situations, they will be the ones to benefit. But before anyone can benefit, you need to make the introduction worthwhile to both sides.

So what does it take to make a good introduction?

First, you need to know both people involved. If you don't know both of them, this isn't an introduction, it's a cold call. Don't waste your time doing a cold call for someone else, they can do it themselves.

Second, you need to vouch for both people. By writing the introduction, you are lending your name and credibility.. now you need to tell them why. I make a point of telling how I know each of the people, whether we've worked or collaborated on a project, and something else that might spark their interest.

Third, there needs to be a reason for the introduction and you have to state it quickly. Look, most of us are busy and don't have the time for a lot of irrelevant email. Get to the point and get to it quickly. State what each of them stand to gain from the introduction.

And finally… don't have any expectations. Even with a personal introduction, quite often one of them won't follow up. The opportunity might fall through. Their goals might not line up. Or the match might not be as good as you hoped. Don't expect a finder's fee and don't expect the favor to be returned.

So… what's the point?  What do you stand to gain from giving introductions?

In the short term, nothing.. Most of the introductions you pass along will end right there. A few more will trade a few emails. And a special few will result in business, friendship, or just a new connection. While I haven't tracked it, anecdotally, I'd wager this is 1 in 10 at best.

In the long term, everything. What is the value of helping friends and associates succeed? What is the value of connecting up two potential friends? What is the value of being a connector in general?

This was crossposted from the WhyGoSolo blog.